Making Smoking History Worldwide

So hopes the title of a commentary in the current NEJM by Drs. Koh & Connolly of the Harvard School of Public Health and Luk Joossens of the Assoc of European Cancer Leagues (Brussels). The authors lead off on a positive note regarding the success of Ireland’s national ban on smoking in indoor workplaces (including restaurants & bars) and from there thoughtfully lay out additional progress, challenges, and goals. This commentary runs in conjunction with another by Drs. Wright (Dana-Farber) and Katz (Beth Israel Deaconess) entitled Tobacco Tightrope — Balancing Disease Prevention and Economic Development in China, which especially warns against the seduction of women and teenagers by transnational tobacco companies in China and other developing nations. With regard to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, “In the third round of negotiations, Philip Morris prepared a wish list for the treaty, and the Bush administration took 10 out of 11 of their positions” … Congress has not ratified the treaty as yet. While China has ratified the WHO treaty, cigarette sales generated $32.5 billion in taxes and profits in China, approximately 7.6% of the government’s total revenue in 2005, compared with $31,000 spent by the government on tobacco control. Hmm.

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